I’ve been thinking about this post for quite some time. I wanted to do a sort of “best of 2020” post with the books, movies and music I finally read, saw and heard. But I didn’t keep a list of books, so I really don’t remember what I read. Or listened to. Or watched.
2020 was a bad year for new movies. I love me some blockbusters, you know? But COVID-19 pretty much killed the theater business last year, and it remains to be seen if it is able to come back or not. Instead we spent our money on Disney Plus, and we were already paying for Prime. My son gets Hulu with his college Spotify package, and Peacock and HBO Max came with our cable package. So we watched at home. Disney released two Pixar movies, ONWARD and SOUL, and both were available in 2020 from the streaming service. Both were good; SOUL was definitely the better of the two, but both entertained. They also released MULAN direct to streaming with something called “Premium Access.” Odd that they didn’t do that with SOUL. I would have paid extra to see it immediately (we watched it when it was released on Christmas Day) but I didn’t want to see MULAN so much that I’d pay a premium for it.
We also watched WONDER WOMAN 1984 on HBO Max on Christmas Day, and I’m glad I didn’t have to pay extra for that one either. It just wasn’t that good. I finally watched the series “The Boys” on Prime, and we went through the two seasons of Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy.” Both were kind of superhero-ish, but neither was a Marvel- or DC-like story. I’m hooked on both.
I don’t really remember a single book standing out in 2020. I read a lot, mostly on Kindle, but a handful in hardcover and paperback as well. I’ll have to pay better attention in 2021. I continued to read Ray Garton, John Everson, Jeff Strand, Duncan Ralston, Howard Odentz, Russell C. Connor, and Bryan Smith. Found a new author: Bella Dean Joyner. And I continued to read outside of the horror genre, especially Steven M. Moore’s latest works in both his Esther Brookstone series and his Penny Castro series. Many of those books were very good (Odentz’s book WHAT WE KILL jumps out in my memory) but there wasn’t that “one” book that said, “this is THE book of 2020.”
Music was interesting. My son has Spotify, and he introduced me to a bunch of cool bands that I would never have known about. I won’t remember all the names here, but the ones that stand out for me are Lawrence, a R&B combo from NYC, and Jukebox The Ghost, a power pop band. I also liked The Happy Fits and a few others. Of course, old standby Paul McCartney released his album MC CARTNEY III at the end of the year. Mixed bag on it. I recognize the songwriting skill and the musical skill, but there are only a few songs (so far) that make me want to listen to them multiple times.
One more thing I want to mention on my year-end wrap. I started watching some YouTube channels. This was new to me. I thought it was all gamers streaming Minecraft or whatever they’re playing at the moment. But there is some great programming. They make you laugh and sometimes teach you something. One film guy I’ve enjoyed is Patrick (H) Willems. He’s a nerdy fan of the big blockbusters like Marvel and such, but he knows filmmaking and his video essays have given me new ways to look at films and movies I enjoyed. Another is Mr. Beast, who makes videos about giving away tons of money. He’s philanthropic at times and entertaining at others. Often the two (philanthropy and entertainment) intersect. The last one I want to mention is Mark Rober, an ex-NASA engineer who does interesting and educational videos about all sorts of science-type stuff. Rober was part of the team that landed Curiosity on Mars, and some of his engineering creations for his videos are quite ingenious (and funny). But others were inspirational. I really like watching him.
So that’s it for 2020. As they say in the movies, “That’s A Wrap!”